The Treaty between Mexico, the United States and Canada (T-MEC) can be ratified before the end of 2019, said Jesus Seade, deputy secretary for North America of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He relied on this possibility after holding negotiations for 4 hours with Robert Lighthizer, head of the White House Commercial Representation (USTR), in Washington.
The Mexican official will meet again Thursday in that same city with US authorities to discuss the treaty.
For now, Seade suggested that one of the controversial issues, about biological medicines, is emerging satisfactorily for the three countries.
First, Bloomberg sources revealed that the USTR and the Democratic legislators agreed to eliminate the protection of the data of the patents of biological medicines of the T-MEC. This was one of the pitfalls to move forward in finalizing the changes to that trade agreement in order to put it to the vote in the US Congress.
However, Seade did not indicate the concept of eliminating this provision, but rather of diminishing it. "The very high protection that was agreed for biomedicines, which would affect generics and that I always described as the side of the least attractive T-MEC for Mexico, without being able to be more precise now, is going to moderate drastically," he wrote. in an article published this Wednesday.
“And the transnational inspectors, who have pushed so much, there won't be. If the US stops insisting on the pair of unacceptable ideas that the Business Coordinating Council (CCE) statement speaks of, we can soon have a treaty, and a very good treaty, ”he added immediately.
The unacceptable changes referred to by the CCE consist of the way in which a labor violation is defined to be subject to penalization in the new trade agreement and, on the other hand, in which the United States government inspects the factories of Mexico, a measure that could reciprocally be done by any of the three partner countries.
Currently, US law provides a 12-year exclusivity period for biological products, while the T-MEC established a protection period of at least 10 years. Under the terms in which the T-MEC was signed, Canada and Mexico would increase their exclusivity periods by two and five years, respectively. That is, Canada now offers only eight years and Mexico five. But, under a new agreement between the USTR and Democratic lawmakers, countries would individually establish, according to Bloomberg sources, their own laws on biological products, which are made of living organisms rather than chemical compounds. If this is the case, the commitment in the trilateral treaty to provide a 10-year protection to these medicines would be erased, in addition to that in the United States negotiations would continue internally to define their own protection period, downwards in accordance with the demand of the democrats. Biological medicines are medical preparations derived from living organisms and are demonstrating valuable sources of treatments for diseases such as arthritis and cancer. As in any other case, once the data protection has expired, third parties can produce generic medicines. They tend to be particularly expensive. Large pharmaceutical companies argue that a certain term of protection is required to recover their investments for research and development of new medicines. Meanwhile, generic manufacturers argue that extensive protection reduces competition and raises prices for patients.